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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Barnstaple to Taunton

Day 1  was an early start, 5.45 am, so we were at Cardiff Central station by 6.30 ready for the train, first to Bristol, change there for Exeter and then the Barnstaple train.  Changing trains at the best of times can be a hassle but with bikes and panniers it's more so, especially as trains will only wait at stations for a specific time, in some cases 40seconds.!!.  Not only that, despite having booked your bike onto a train there's no guarantee of a place, because the system doesn't inform the train guards that bikes are booked on.  Its a crazy system.  But basically the train companies regard bikes on trains as a pain and only pay lip service to it.  Not like years ago when there was a goods van on the train.  If you have a moment take a look at this clip.  







Much of the ride was on Route 51,  its a very hilly and if  you decide to cycle it you may want to look for alternatives.  The main roads are relatively quiet but are wide enough to cycle with care.



Views from Coombe Martin


Some of the lanes are in a bad state so  you need good tread on your tyres





Some of the hills, double chevron jobs, were just too much for us, age, and carrying panniers were against us.

But as with all rides there are good bits and riding on this stretch was rewarding, especially as there was a nice pub selling teas.



This is Lorna  Doone  country with Exmoor looking good.



Its downhill all the way to Porlock via this tollroad.....£1 for cyclists, but well worth it just for the joyride with sweeping bends.


No Pictures of Day 2 but it was another hard day with lots of climbing for the first 20 miles and then then for the last 17 miles or so on great cycling roads into Taunton.

This trip was the forerunner to an event we are running in late June, cycling from Plymouth to Cardiff, but after cycling this bit we will alter the route to cater for everyone going.   Whilst there are better cyclists than us going, there are some who wont be up to all the hills.

Here's the routes,
   Day 1  

 Day 2

14 comments:

  1. Good write up and great photos! You certainly need your hill climbing legs in that part of the world, although I see you gave Countisbury Hill out of Lynton a swerve - wise choice!
    I've never forgotten a book I read as a kid - The Overland Launch, the true story of how they took the Lynmouth Lifeboat through the lanes (and up and down those hills!) on a horse drawn cart to enable them to launch at Porlock to go to the aid of a ship in trouble. The weather prevented them launching from Lynmouth as usual. So once I got a motorbike I made a trip along those lanes and it is a mind boggling achievement.

    The trains these days are just a joke aren't they. WE had Police called to Plymouth station on Good Friday to get 150 people off an overcrowded train, and the rail company said they were caught out by an unusually high number of passengers. I can remember when they'd put relief trains on in front of the scheduled services at Easter, or if not, extra coaches, but now? Nothing!
    And the guard'svans too! I've seen motorbikes, flowers, all sorts going on or coming off the guard's van (ex train spotter see) even a coffin! But now?

    That video you linked to I think is part of a longer film, possibly by the CTC, about a cyclist's special or something. I'm not sure, but it is a brilliant watch.

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    1. Mick, moving that lifeboat must have been a huge feat as those hills are very steep. A goods van would be the ideal, and most cyclists probably wouldnt mind paying to have their bikes transported.

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  2. I loved this post with all the photos of your ride, the countryside is so beautiful! I can see it was a very challenging ride! When I lived in NYC I used to take my bike on the subway to finish out a 20 minute stretch to my workplace and avoid taking a bus which I hated...it was not always easy just carrying it down the steps with all the people around was quite a feat trying no to knock someone's teeth out...then mostly having to stand at a pole in the middle while hoping no one would bump themselves on the bike and then try to press some sort of silly legal charge!! Pot holes finally convinced me to get another car!

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    1. Thanks Sondra. Bikes are banned on the Underground in London as it would be a nightmare. Yes you have to be careful with the potholes on roads now as local authorities dont have the money to fix all of them.

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  3. Our City buses has bike rakes on the front side, tho not more than three bikes a time can be place on them racks, I don't ever recall ever seeing anyone bringing any bikes onto a train here. Lovely pictures of the country side and that mini film was very interesting.

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    1. Hi Anita, I've read about those buse, I hope it catches on here. In Ireland sometimes the buses will let you put your bikes in the luggage space.

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  4. Looks nice and what a beautiful countryside. I guess it would have been possible for a Norwegian to cycle in the UK. I would just have to get used to do it on "the wrong side of the road.:-)

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    1. Hi Gunn, you soon get use to riding on the left. Its the same when we go to Europe, you soon slip into it. Years ago there used to be a ferry than ran from Stravanga to Newcastle I wish that was still running as it would be a good trip to ride / drive from there back to the UK.

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  5. As usual you've just made me crave British country lanes... Good thing that I'll be there in a few weeks!

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  6. Thats great Ciel, lets hope the weather is good for you. Where abouts are you going?

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  7. I hope the weather is good for you next time.
    Cycling all thatw ay is a dream for me just now.
    Hopefully I will get the bike out soon.
    Your trips always make me jealous.

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    1. I think we all appreciate the ability to still do all this cycling. But as our friend who is 87 and still a really good cyclist says "you cant afford to stop". That's so true and we keep going all year round. But sometimes its not the distance done but just the joy of being on your bike thats important.

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  8. Your country side is beautiful and steep! We were somewhere in Europe, Prague maybe, and there were bike tourers who had train reservations, but since the one car was "full" of bikes (not) they made him strip everything off the bike and put it in a different car. Fortunately, it was a long stop. The bike owners were very annoyed.

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    1. Allison, I always thought the Europeans were more tolerant of bikes than us here, perhaps not. Enjoy the tour it sounds as if you are doing a lot. Whilst the weather in Europe may not be at its best its very often the best time of year to see places as there are less tourists.

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Thanks for your comments. Whenever possible I will always reply. Dave